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Dr. Martin Luther King's Effect Felt Through the Sports World

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Children and adults have one special person to thank for a day off from school and work, and that person is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. An iconic role model for equality and peace, alongside peace activists ranging from John Lennon to Gandhi, it is an understatement to say that Dr. King has made the world a better place. On August 23, 1963, Dr. King called for an end to racism and the start of equality on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with his “I Have a Dream” speech. This speech was not only a call to action to more than 200,000 civil rights supporters, but to all humankind.

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“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” spoke Dr. King 50 years ago.

The year is now 2013, and some of the world’s best athletes are African-American. Worldwide, racial equality has improved since 1963. In fact, while lovers of the great “American sport” of football prep for the Super Bowl (whichever team they are rooting for) there will be many black players in the game. These athletes continue to inspire young football players and their cities are proud to call them part of their team.

Other notable African-American athletes include basketball stars Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, professional golfer Tiger Woods, baseball icon Willie Mays, football player Jerry Rice, tennis sisters Serena and Venus Williams, boxer Muhammad Ali, track star Jesse Owens, and who could forget gymnast Gabby Douglas! The list goes on and on. America even has a black president!

Living in a San Francisco suburb, I can tell you that one thing that SF is proud to boast is its growing diversity. Almost no one in the city can feel left out because of what ethnicity they are; actually, people are encouraged to feel proud of their uniqueness. We have come a long way from the sickening hatred of discrimination that was a large part of American history. The 21st century is known as making history, not reverting back to its old ways. Let us keep it this way. Dr. King, I hope you are looking down on us and smiling.